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Toxicol Sci. 2012 May;127(1):76-83. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfs089. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Developmental coexposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers has additive effects on circulating thyroxine levels in rats.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University at Albany, Albany, New York 12201, USA.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widespread environmental contaminants found in seafood and dairy products. PCBs and PBDEs are structurally similar chemicals and affect thyroid hormone function and behavior in children and laboratory rodents. Although coexposure frequently exists, the in vivo developmental effects of combined exposure to PCBs and PBDEs on thyroxine (T4) levels are unknown. We examined the effects of PCB and PBDE coexposure from gestational day 6 through postnatal day (p) 21, alone and in combination, on T4 levels in rat offspring. In males, exposure to PCBs and PBDEs at 1.7, 5, 10, 20, 40, and 60 μmol/kg/day induced equivalent and dose-dependent reductions in T4 from p 7 to p 21. Exposure to equimolar mixtures of PCBs and PBDEs at 3.4, 10, 20, 40, and 80 μmol/kg/day additively reduced T4 from p 7 to p 21 in males. In a second series of experiments, we determined sex effects on the mixture exposures and found that coexposure to PCBs and PBDEs had similar additive effects on T4 levels in male and female offspring. This study demonstrates that equimolar exposure to PCBs and PBDEs induces similar reductions in T4 levels and that coexposure to a mixture of PCBs and PBDEs has additive effects on T4 levels. These thyroid hormone effects of coexposure to PCBs and PBDEs are important when considering the cumulative effects of coexposure to multiple environmental thyroid hormone-disrupting agents in risk assessment for developmental disorders.

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